Best Family Plan in 2020: Which U.S. carrier treats families better? Android Central 2021
It's nice to have your entire family on the same cell phone plan, but it's even nicer if you can save money at the same time. Most providers have moved away from the family plan as a name and have moved towards offering discounts for having multiple lines on an account, but that still works well for families. The prices in this guide will be shown for four lines but some plans allow you to save with even more lines and autopay. The best overall option is T-Mobile's Magenta plan thanks to its large amounts of data and hotspot abilities.
- Best overall: T-Mobile Magenta
- Best Value: Sprint Unlimited Basic
- Best LTE network: Verizon Wireless Start Unlimited
- Best for Light Users: AT&T Wireless Mobile Share Plus 3GB
- Best Prepaid: Walmart Family Mobile Truly Unlimited
- Best for multiple accounts: Visible
Best overall: T-Mobile Magenta
T-Mobile delivers fast data and a lot of it. One of the best values comes from the middle unlimited plan, Magenta. There is a cheaper Essentials plan available on T-Mobile that includes unlimited data, but it has fewer features and doesn't include taxes and fees like the Magenta and Magenta Plus plans do. T-Mobile also has a rapidly growing 5G network with access included in every plan.
The Magenta plan starts at $70 per month for one line but the cost per line quickly drops to $60 with a second line. With that second line, you also get Netflix included. Lines three, four, and five are priced at $40, $35, and $32 per month respectively. Again, taxes and fees are included.
While this plan only streams videos at 480p quality, customers are allowed to use a massive 50GB before their data is deprioritized. An unlimited hotspot feature is also available with 3GB of LTE data. This plan also includes a few extras such as 2G data and texting in foreign countries, not to mention, 5GB of high-speed data in Mexico and Canada.
- Fast T-Mobile LTE network
- Netflix included
- 50GB before deprioritization
- Compatible with most unlocked phones
- International options
- 480p video
- Small high-speed hotspot
Tons of data
Netflix service is included with T-Mobile's Magenta plan. With unlimited data with 50GB before deprioritization, you can stream as much as you want.
Best Value: Sprint Unlimited Basic
Sprint offers a lot of value for its customers when it comes to unlimited data but there's no getting around that the Sprint network isn't as big or as grand as its competitors. You can, however, check to see if you have coverage, and if you do, there are some big savings available until 2021. Not to mention they all have a hotspot and Hulu service included so you can stream to your heart's content.
Sprint is currently offering some pretty major discounts on its Unlimited Basic plan. Compared to the more expensive plan, data is more likely to be deprioritized during congestion, videos stream at standard definition, and you miss some features like Amazon Prime and Tidal. Even considering those omissions, the plan starts at $60 for one line and moves up to $100 for two through five lines. That's right, you can have five lines for the cost of two.
While this discount doesn't last forever, even the standard prices are competitive. If you feel you need more, you can also jump up to the more expensive plans which come with more hotspot data, HD video streams, and Tidal music streaming.
One thing to keep in mind is Sprint is now owned by T-Mobile and at some point, the networks and services will merge. In fact, Sprint customers are even able to roam on the T-Mobile network without overages already. This even includes T-Mobile's 5G network for Galaxy S20 owners.
- Unlimited talk, text, and data
- Hotspot on all plans
- Major discounts on Unlimited Basic plan
- Hulu service included
- Uncertain future
- Not compatible with all unlocked phones
- 480p video
Big savings on lines 2-5
Sprint's laser-focus on unlimited data and low prices and has one of the most compelling offerings in family plans. Save money and forget about data usage.
This one isn't all about the price so much as it's about the coverage and features. Verizon's LTE network continues to outperform all of the others in network consistency and time spent on LTE. Verizon lets you easily mix and match its unlimited plans and has a Just Kids plan specifically for your young ones. The savings per line increase with the number of lines you have, with the most basic unlimited plan starting at $30 per month for five or more lines, which is down from $70, $60, $45, and $35 for one through four lines.
Most people will likely be content with the lowest tier Start Unlimited plan thanks to its unlimited talk, text, and data. However, LTE data speed will be reduced during times of congestion on this plan. If it's important to have more consistent data on a line, more expensive unlimited plans with an allotment of premium, or prioritized, LTE data are available.
For a similar price to the Start Unlimited plan, a line on a plan with at least one other unlimited plan can be substituted for a Just Kids plan. This plan includes 5GB of data, unlimited talk and text to 20 contacts, and access to Verizon Smart Family Premium with Parental Controls. This can be a good way to limit and monitor a younger person's phone use.
- Mix and match unlimited plans
- Dedicated plan for kids
- Massive Verizon network
- 480p videos on most plans
- No hotspot on smaller plans
- Not compatible with all unlocked phones
Best LTE network
Mix and match unlimited
Mix and match a custom plan including a Just Kids plan with Verizon Wireless and take advantage of one of the best data networks in the country.
Best for Light Users: AT&T Wireless
If your family doesn't use a lot of data or they can make strong use of your home Wi-Fi, a shared data plan might be a good value. AT&T's Mobile Share Plus 3GB plan allows your family to share 3GB of high-speed data. After the 3GB is gone, data speeds are reduced to 2G speeds but if you use less than that, your data carries over to the next month.
You could also save further by checking for discounts available from your school or workplace with the Signature Program discount. Like most other plans, having more lines can reduce your price per line coming down to $30 per line or $120 total each month with four lines. The price per line ranges from $50, $40, $34, and $30 per line as you add up to four lines to your account.
You can use your data in a hotspot if you please as well. Of course, AT&T has more plans available, including a 9GB data sharing plan and three unlimited plans if you find AT&T's network is strong enough in your area to make the extra cost worth it over other carriers.
- Fast AT&T LTE network
- More data available
- Data rollover
- Unlimited talk and text
- 480p video
Best for Light Users
From 3GB to unlimited on one carrier
AT&T has one of the best LTE networks around and offers you plenty of ways to use it from data sharing plans to unlimited plans including television.
Best Prepaid: Walmart Family Mobile Truly Unlimited
Walmart Family Mobile is an MVNO based on the T-Mobile network. The T-Mobile network guarantees a lot of phones will be compatible, especially if they were bought unlocked. Since Walmart Family Mobile is a prepaid network, you don't have to worry about contracts so if it doesn't work for you, you're not locked down.
The thing that makes Family Mobile such a good value is that adding a line is only $24.88 on top of the base plan. If you select the truly unlimited plan, you are getting the best value since each additional line will get the same perks. It comes with unlimited LTE data with deprioritization held off until 40GB. You also get a 10GB hotspot. This can be a good option for a family that wants to save some money while avoiding contracts.
- Large T-Mobile network
- Tons of compatible phones
- Unlimited data
- 10GB of hotspot data
- Video streams at SD resolution
Add a line for $25
No matter which plans you pick, adding another line is just under $25. Starting with Truly Unlimited gets you 10GB of hotspot data.
Best for multiple accounts: Visible
Visible is an MVNO based on the Verizon network. Visible only offers one plan at a competitive $40 per month per line with unlimited data. This plan can make a lot of sense for a family that still wants to save money while paying for each line separately. With Visible Party Pay your price per month comes down to $35 per line with two accounts linked. Three and four lines bring the price down to $30 and $25 per month.
Since it's not strictly a family plan, it can also be used with friends without worrying about them missing a payment. Every line maintains a separate account and each person pays their own bill. You're not on the hook for some else's bill if they miss their payment. This can be a great option for a family that still wants to save on their phone bill but has grown out of sharing a traditional family plan.
- Unlimited data
- Unlimited hotspot (5 Mbps)
- Verizon LTE network
- No speed caps
- Video stream quality can be lowered
- Limited phone compatibility
Best for multiple accounts
Savings without sharing
Manage your own account and forget about collecting payments. You also get a great unlimited plan on a huge network.
When it comes to making sure your family is connected, one of the biggest factors is going to be which network has the best coverage in your area. Thankfully, nearly every carrier has coverage for more people now. Whether you need more data or are just looking to save some money, it's a good time to consider your options.
When it comes to offering a great balance of features T-Mobile's commitment to its network is paying off combined with its focus on giving its customers plenty of data. When you pair that with an included Netflix subscription the Magenta plan is one of the best values you can get for your family.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
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